RM Sotheby’s Monterey Sale Preview: 1939 Porsche Type 64

Knotty Nawadhinsukh Words by Knotty Nawadhinsukh
“Rennsport”—The Type 64 finally became a racing car as campaigned by second owner, Otto Mathé, in the early Fifties

The Monterey Car Week 2019 that begins today is yet another highly anticipated motoring event that will attract quite plenty a number enthusiasts worldwide, showcasing pretty much with some of the best car collections available as in the years before. Given that kind of atmosphere, it has become one of several traditions that virtually all of the leading auction houses will be featuring a selection of historically significant cars for sale annually, in the presence of such a type of crowd. From RM Sotheby’s side, in which their auction will take place during the 15th to 17th of August at the Monterey Conference Center, probably their biggest draw among all the cars to be offered would have to be this historic 1939 streamline-bodied VW 60K10 Rekordwagen—or known better as the Porsche Type 64.

Narrow streamline shape reflects aerodynamic understanding on how to make a car go faster at the time
Steering wheel returned to the left after Mathé ownership

Many vintage Porsche enthusiasts worldwide have been clamouring over the sale of this car in nearly every media for months. So why all the hubbubs? Maybe it is the very idea that such a historically significant single piece of machinery that formed (figuratively and literally) the “origin of the species” that symbolised all the Porsches that we recognise through the years with the 356s and the 911s will now be sold publicly for the first time. Or it could be that, with its final selling price that many experts had touted to be at around US$ 20 million (and even higher in some quarters), this could be the most valuable Porsche of all.

Mathé converted the Type 64 to right hand drive to accommodate left hand shifting after a motorcycle accident severed his right arm
Air-cooled 985cc. Flat-Four unit from VW project uprated to deliver 32 horsepower

For us though at Grand Touring, what really intrigued us more is the story of how this third Type 64 came about and how by fate, luck or whatever it is you wish to call it, remained the only true survivor of only three that were ever made (discounting chassis 38/42, which several regarded more as a painstaking recreation by Nostalgicar for the Prototyp Automuseum in Hamburg, using an amalgam of parts found from the original with a totally new chassis and body and was shown last year at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles).

Tear-drop shape and alloy body built for primarily straight-line speed intended for the cancelled Berlin to Rome race
Son Ferry reportedly was the one to finally put the family name badge to the Prof. Dr. Porsche's creation after WWII

This engine number 38/43 car was the third built under the designation of Type 60K10 and was based on the on-going project under Professor Doctor Ferdinand Porsche to build the “People’s Car” for the German masses during the Thirties. Known among Porsche historians though as the Type 64, it was considered a relief for Prof. Dr. Porsche to get the green light to produce a faster version, to show its superiority for the Berlin to Rome road race to be staged in September of 1939. With racing blood in his veins, Prof. Dr. Porsche un-admittedly prefer to build a sportier machine (and under his own device if he could) rather than producing some “Volkswagen” directed by the Third Reich.

Aviation-inspired canopy, split screened for strength
Mathé (4th from right next to the car) took the laurels with 22 victories in road races and rallies during the 1952 season alone

The first Type 64, chassis and engine number 38/41, may have been completed in time but it was never raced. As we all know, the race never happened as German troops had already invaded Poland by then. Despite that Prof. Dr. Porsche and his small team of engineers continued building the Type 64s well into the very next year. After a crash by one of the directors of Volkswagen, historians founded that the 38/41 chassis became the basis for the final third car—which is this one.

Original engine number 38/43 matches third car chassis number 38/41 from the first car that suffered a crash
Seats are still as original as when the Professor and son Ferry sat in them

Towards the end of World War II the original second car, the aforementioned  38/42, has been much chronicled as the one that was found and taken over by the invading American troops into Germany, some of whom had taken liberty as their “joyride of choice” and finally drove it to the ground as unsalvageable scraps. This one with the 38/43 motor however managed to remain intact as the Professor took it over as his own personal transport and managed to save it from any seizure or destruction in Germany by moving it to Austria by 1944. Even after his imprisonment post-war, the car was still under the care of his son, Ferry.

Everything was made to be lightweight, including door rope handle and sliding windows
Save for the 1983 Pebble Beach appearance, the Type 64 remained in Otto Mathé's private museum for 46 years

Austrian racing driver Otto Mathé was the next owner of the car when the Porsches sold it to him in 1949 who raced it extensively and victoriously for several seasons, though with a bigger 1.3 Litre engine installed at the time. Even after countless pleadings from Ferry Porsche to sell it back to him to become the centerpiece for the company’s new museum in the later years, Mathé continued to rebuff any offers right until the very end. After his passing, it was then sold to another Austrian Porsche enthusiast, Dr. Thomas Gruber, who sold it privately to another collector and the car’s current owner in 2008.

Italian coachbuilder Pinin Farina helped with first restoration in 1947

By how close will the final auction price be to the estimates remains to be seen. But since this Type 64 is undoubtedly considered as the “Holy Grail” of all Porsches, any serious Porsche-phile would just about pay anything to get hold of it to be a part of his or her collection—or maybe some car company’s museum!

All Photos & Video Provided By: www.rmsothebys.com